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Greg Burton: The Power of Nails

Rev. Burton visited the nails shop operated by a group of Vietnamese, many of whom take part in his church's English as a Second Language Ministry. After overcoming the constraints of his male ego, he requested a manicure, but he wasn't ready, he writes, for the next step. "She smiled at me and asked, 'Now I do your toes?'My masculinity meter did not have a setting for that request! I politely declined and she seemed disappointed. As I was about to leave, the Voice popped into my head again, so I obediently asked, "Could I get a pedicure?" It's a fascinating, timely article. Rev. Burton is well know to CM readers, as many remember this contribution to the Burton family history: Local History: Thomas Burton and Cobbs Plantation, VA He is a frequent visitor to Columbia, KY, coming here not only to monitor the behavior of Murrell Burton, but also to visit his many kinfolk in Adair County.
From, Greg Burton's web log. This column seems a very fitting one for this area of Kentucky, where, in a similar fashion, Vietnamese newcomers are enriching our lives, and English as a Second Language is becoming more and more an important opportunity

By Greg Burton

Our English as a Second Language class had been bringing several Vietnamese people into our church to work on their language skills. Most of them came from some of the local nail salons. One of the men had already come to Christ and was baptized a few months ago. This particular Sunday I found that a married couple had come to Christ over Thanksgiving and wanted to be baptized. Their English was minimal.

I attempted to find a time when we could meet, but they worked nearly every day, all day long. Their manager suggested I come by the salon in Bristol and talk with them there about the details of their upcoming baptism. It would prove to be a trip out of my comfort zone!

Ngan and Tien were so excited that I came by to see them. Their manager, Tu, was also quite pleased. He abandoned his manicure customer to interpret my instructions for their baptism. After going over the basics I suggested Tu return to the lady who was probably about to leave! This left the three of us standing awkwardly with very little to say. Ngan said she had lots to talk with me about. I could not visualize how this could happen. Then the Lord put a question in my heart.

"Could I get a manicure?" I asked her. That these words escaped my lips seemed incredulous! I had never had a manicure, nor wanted one. I realized many professional men get them for a good appearance, but my testosterone just kept me from this big step. Yet, it seemed a good way to sit close and attempt to communicate without customers interfering. Tien went to get me some ice water while I soaked my fingertips.

Ngan did a wonderful job. As she trimmed my nails, treated my cuticles and massaged my hands, she showed me her notebook from Bible study. She also shared her story of coming to America and training for her profession. It was a splendid time of trying to get to know each other, but it ended quickly. She smiled at me and asked, "Now I do your toes?"

My masculinity meter did not have a setting for that request! I politely declined and she seemed disappointed. As I was about to leave, the Voice popped into my head again, so I obediently asked, "Could I get a pedicure?" Ngan was ecstatic and went for her kit. I was still in shock that I had actually spoken those words. She took me to a soft recliner in the center of the salon and had me sit down. Fortunately, there was only one customer in the whole place! As soon as I got my socks off, I counted EIGHT persons who came through the front door in the next two minutes. God certainly has a sense of humor!

One lady sat at the table nearest me. She smiled at me and commented on what nice people the technicians were. I was really not in the mood to talk. I wanted to hide. But I told her I was their pastor and she shared that she was a pastor's wife. She had been praying for them for a long time! What joy she displayed when I announced they would be baptized the next day.

It was very humbling and somewhat awkward having Ngan sit at my feet, trim my toenails and pumice away dead skin. I know she could sense my anxiety and she tried small talk to put me at ease. Then it hit me, the story of the woman who entered the Pharisee's house and poured perfume on the feet of Jesus. She did it as an act of gratitude and worship for Christ forgiving her sins. It was the same spirit in Ngan.

Ngan showed such care and kindness. She and Tu would accept no money for the services, it was a Christmas gift. She barely knew me, but she had come to America as a stranger and had found Christ as her savior. Our church had welcomed her and her husband for baptism. As pastor, I had come to visit with them. This was not about me, it was an act of gratitude toward God. My eyes moistened. I had come perilously close to letting my pride prevent her from an act of worship and devotion to God. So close. And now I have two new friends and yet one more account of God's amazing ways...if we just get out of the way! - GREG BURTON.

Commentary from, Greg Burton's website.

The writer, Greg Burton, is pastor of Colonial Heights Baptist Church, 108 Colonial Heights Road, Kingsport, TN.

This story was posted on 2012-01-12 05:47:26
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Rev. Greg Burton

2012-01-12 - Photo from Burton family archives.

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